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The Stages and Developmental Trail of Chinese Language Curriculum in Singapore(1960s-2010s)

CHIN, Chee Kuen / December 2020 / Issue No.8 /


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This article analyzes the characteristics of Chinese curriculum developed between the period from 1960s’ to 2010s’ in Singapore. The frameworks and structures of Chinese language curriculum were relatively simple in 60s-80s’ of last century. They were basically a ‘two-tier’ model, namely Chinese as a first language for students from Chinese medium schools and Chinese as a second language for students from English medium schools. The main differences between the two lied in language proficiency requirements. The curriculum objectives were basically the same, which were both emphasizing on the development of four language skills, transmission of Chinese culture and cultivating national consciousness that were needed for nation-building. Singapore implemented education streaming system after 1980s’, Chinese language teaching was hence attached to the system and the curriculum was designed in accordance with students’ academic abilities. The language proficiency levels and core learning points were to align with students’ learning abilities but the language education view of transmitting Chinese culture through learning mother tongue remains unchanged. Entering 21st century, the family language backgrounds for students learning Chinese language become complicated. Chinese language curriculum began to pay attention to learners’ differentiations. Modular approach curriculum was put in place to adhere to students’ different language backgrounds and language abilities. The development of learners’ ability in using language in their daily live is also emphasized. Looking forward, Singapore Chinese language curriculum will continue to adapt to the changing domestic language environment and transforming global environment at large.


Chinese Language curriculum culture transmission linguistic background learning needs apply what they have learned


International Journal of Chinese Language Education; Dec 2020; Issue No. 8; p.71 - 107


Department of Chinese Language Studies, The Education University of Hong Kong
Chinese Language Program, Columbia University
Chung Hwa Book Co. (H.K.) Ltd.




2520-7733 (Print); 2521-4241 (Online)

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